SAG Discriminates Against Women and Minorities
Screen Actors Guild in Wrongful Termination/ Discrimination LawsuitsMillions of Dollars Paid by Screen Actors Guild Members to Minorities in Settlements and Legal Fees to O’Melveny & Myers Law Firm
December 1, 2006 -Hollywood--Eric Amdursky & Catherine B. Hagen, partners in O'Melveny & Myers LLP have represented the Screen Actors Guild for the past several years in discrimination lawsuits against SAG. Amdursky represents SAG in a series of wrongful termination/discrimination cases. He also represented Time Warner Entertainment Company and several affiliates in a class action brought by television writers over the age of 40 alleging industry-wide age discrimination against all of them. SAG, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO has settled all of the wrongful termination and racial discrimination cases by its minority employees.
Three of which where settled in recent months except one. SAG’s officials on its website have vowed to fight allegations that it says are baseless against, Dr. Patricia Heisser Metoyer, former affirmative action director. SAG’s record of dismissing minority staff members is significant.
SAG an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, who gave Ruby and Ossie Davis the SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award, prides itself on a long history of affirmative action and diversity, has settled seven discrimination lawsuits by minority employees since 2001.
Valerie Quetel, an African-American who worked as a benefits administrator and recruiter in the SAG's human resources department, alleged a "pattern and practice" of discrimination by SAG. Quetel filed suit in L.A. Superior Court alleging 22 causes of action. Quetel, was a 12-year employee of SAG, filed a wrongful termination-racial discrimination lawsuit. This case was settled by SAG.
In 2001, Peter Nguyen, Asian-American, an associate in the affirmative action department worked for Heisser Metoyer, filed a wrongful termination suit that has since been settled. Terms were kept confidential, as were the terms of a settlement in a wrongful termination suit filed by former employee Ray McCoy Daniel Jr., an African-American.
Another wrongful termination and discrimination case filed by former SAG executive Thomas Baiz, a Mexican-American was settled by SAG. SAG also fired Mexican-American employee, Hector Chavez. Chavez was the associate national director of human resources, was terminated following six months on the job. His case was settled as well.Deborah Geter, an African-American, SAG employee for 20 years, was in charge of monitoring and enforcing SAG’s Taft-Hartley waivers, which brought in $1 million a year to the union.
The waivers allow producers to use nonunion actors under certain conditions, and Geter would collect the financial penalty for the use of the nonunion talent. This case settled by SAG.Former secretary Kelley Langford, African-American sued SAG. SAG settled the lawsuits with Langford.
In November 2003, Heisser Metoyer's lawsuit, filed in L.A. Superior Court, was moved to U.S. District Court, Central District of California, where George W. Bush appointed federal judge, John Walters threw out about half her claims on technical grounds. Her case is currently on appeal in the U.S. District Court of Appeal Ninth District.
Heisser Metoyer sued SAG, alleging that she was forced out over her complaints about the SAG's falsified statistics on the racial makeup of the staff. The action also named the top two SAG execs at the time, John McGuire and Leonard Chassman. . McGuire is currently” a senior adviser” to SAG and Chassman retired with a substantial retirement package.
Eugenia Hicks, Heisser Metoyer’s attorney said in an L.A. Business Journal article says that Heisser Metoyer, on the job for little more than a year, ended up in the bad graces of other SAG officials when she reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the union was exaggerating the number of minorities on its 270-person staff.
"When she got in there she actually started doing something and she stepped on some toes. Some people didn't like that," Hicks said. "They decided to retaliate and they did it with a vengeance."
SAG has countersued Heisser Metoyer, and O'Melveny & Myers joined its original firm in the suits, Geffner & Bush. The suits, brought by Heisser Metoyer, have been litigated by Eric Amdursky and Catherine B. Hagen, among other O’Melveny & Myers attorneys, hearing is set for February 16, 2006 before Superior Court Judge David Minning, for additional attorney’s fees. Heisser Metoyer pursued in house discrimination allegations along with her opposition to affirmative action budget cuts.
There were no minorities among the 30 top SAG execs. The suit alleged that the dismissal came in retaliation. In the suit, she accused SAG's then-human resources director at the time, Linda Shick, of calling her a “black bitch” and alleged that there had been a continuing deterioration in the workplace environment at SAG, with minority employees staging a letter-writing campaign to the board that accused Shick and associates of repeated breaches of confidentiality.
Shick and Kathy Nirschl, the No. 2 exec in SAG's human resources department in 2001, departed their posts later, with SAG saying they had left for other job opportunities
In addition to firing Nguyen in March, 2001 McGuire and Chassman also dismissed Celine Bae, Asian-American employee from the affirmative action department, and placed its then-chief for three years , Heisser Metoyer, who until then received many industry commendations, on leave during the same week, firing her on May 31, 2001.
SAG later hired David White, African-American, formerly of O’Melveny and Myers as Senior Legal Counsel, who consistently throughout the last years, declined comment on all of the suits and execs refused to disclose any details about the cases to the national executive committee, which is composed of national board members. During that same period
“The suits are yet another complication embroiling the union, which has historically been beset by internal and external battles and [racial] strife.”
By not speaking publicly, SAG has kept the discrimination lawsuits in the background.
Posted by Anonymous to Native Unity at 12/26/2006 11:32:31 AM
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